The most recent data on the harbour dates back to 1995 and is being updated, said McNeil, who wasn't willing to put a timeline on a remediation plan until the province knows what kinds of effluent are in the harbour.
"We don't have the information," said McNeil. "We're gathering up that information and then we can lay out a plan about how we deal with it."
Last week, the government announced that a permit to pump effluent into Boat Harbour from a mill at Abercrombie Point that's owned by Northern Pulp would be extended while it consults with the Pictou Landing First Nation. The band is calling for immediate action on a cleanup.
McNeil said the government needs to proceed in a way that protects jobs at the mill, which is important to the local community.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said information has been collected for 40 years on what's known to be a toxic site and the province should move quickly to clean it up.
"There's been plenty of studies about Boat Harbour and now it is time to actually take action," said Baillie.
McNeil said provincial officials are also in the process of reviewing an 800-page submission from the Pictou Landing First Nation as part of consultations on the environmental problem.